What You Don’t Know About the Flu May Hurt You
According to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of flu related hospitalizations so far in the 2018 flu season is the “highest they have ever seen, even higher than the 2014-2015 flu season.” What’s equally as alarming is the number of children who have died from flu complications. In my home state of Connecticut, there have been 52 flu related deaths reported so far and with several weeks to go in the 2018 flu season, we can expect those numbers to increase.
Seasonal Influenza and Heart Disease
Seasonal influenza is an acute viral infection that causes mostly respiratory symptoms that can leave you feeling weak and can put you at risk for other complications. If you have a heart condition, you have a greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population.
There is evidence that heart attacks occur more often during or immediately after an acute inflammatory illness, such as flu. According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1702090), people over 35 who have a confirmed case of influenza are at risk for having a heart attack in the week after a flu diagnosis.
If you think you have the flu you should contact your physician as soon as possible for advice. Symptoms include:
- Fever (usually high)
- Severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes
- Generalized weakness
- Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
- Dry cough
- Sore throat and watery discharge from the nose
Be aware that some over the counter medication such as decongestants can raise your blood pressure and interfere with other medications. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you try any over the counter treatment. Make sure you tell each of your doctors about all of the medicines you’re taking — prescription and over the counter.
How to Avoid Getting the Flu
- Get the flu vaccine
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth- Germs spread this way
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub
The Flu sucks no matter who you are! But as heart disease survivors we have to try had to avoid getting the flu in this deadly 2018 flu season. If you do get the flu, remember to seek urgent medical care if your symptoms get worse. Call 911 if you have trouble breathing or any other signs of a health emergency.
Don’t wait to call 911 or go to the emergency room if you have heart disease and the flu. It’s better to get a quick medical exam and treatment than to risk waiting to see if your symptoms get better on their own.